Persons with disability are the largest minority group in the world and many remain invisible in their communities, according to Daniela Bas the current Director, Division for Social Policy and Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) at the United Nations.
In a September 20 press conference held at United Nations headquarters in New York City, Bas discussed the need to bring persons with disabilities out of the shadows and give them the tools they need to lead productive lives.
“Currently, there are no definitive statistics on the number of persons with disabilities worldwide,” Bas said, adding that because of this, it is unknown how many persons with disabilities are unemployed or face other barriers to inclusion. She stressed that the lack of hard data on the numbers of persons with disabilities is a symptom of persons with disabilities “invisibility,” that must be remedied.
On September 23, the United Nations General Assembly will focus their discussion on how to better integrate persons with disabilities into world development goals and help more persons will disability have access to adequate shelter, food, education, and jobs.
According to Rosangela Berman Bieler, the UNICEF Senior Advisor on Children with Disabilities, who also spoke at the press event, she hopes the first ever General Assembly meeting on disability will help the world community re-think how they perceive disability.
“Disability is human diversity,” Berman Bieler emphasized, adding as long as the needs of persons with disabilities remain unmet, nations cannot move forward in eradicating poverty, lack of education and other development goals as set forth by the United Nations.
“Poverty and exclusion cannot aid in development,” Berman Bieler said.